Robert Putnam

Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community

Like other addictive or compulsive behaviors, television seems to be a surprisingly unsatisfying experience. Both time diaries and the "beeper" studies find that for the average viewer television is about as enjoyable as housework and cooking, ranking well below all other leisure activities and indeed below work itself. TV's dominance in our lives reflects not its sublime pleasures, but its minimal costs. 241

X'ers have an extremely personal and individualistic view of politics. They came of age in an era that celebrated personal goods and private initiative over shared public concerns. Unlike boomers, who were once engaged, X'ers have never made the connection to politics, so they emphasize the personal and private over the public and collective. 259

Since 1983 Lee County has added one thousand industrial jobs a year, garnered hundreds of millions of dollars of new investment, produced arguably the best school system in Mississippi, constructed a world-class hospital, and kept unemployment and poverty rates well below the state (and sometimes even the national) average. The community's success was based on its unwavering commitment to the idea that citizens would not benefit individually unless they pursued their goals collectively. 324

...associational ties benefit those who are best equipped by nature or circumstance to organize and make their voices heard. People with education, money, status, and close ties with fellow members of their community of interest will be far more likely to benefit politically under pluralism than will the uneducated, the poor, and the unconnected. In our words, social capital is self-reinforcing and benefits most those who already have a stock on which to trade. As long as associationalism is class biased, as virtually every study suggests it is, then pluralist democracy will be less than egalitarian. In the famous words of the political scientist E. E. Schattschneider: 'The flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper-class accent.'" 340